The Department of Truth #13 Review

Spoilers for The Department of Truth

Back in the 18th century. there was a German philosopher that one day would be considered one of the most important philosophers in history. His name was Immanuel Kant, and he changed the way we thought about thinking. He pondered that it was impossible that we could have access to reality, more specifically, to things itself. He said that we could only have access to phenomena created by our senses and our understanding. This all led into the idea that things were (more or less) simply ideas created by our reasoning through which we understood the world.

Now, I start this review with a half baked summary of Kant not because I loved him (quite the contrary, in fact), or because I want to pretend I’m really smart (ok maybe a little bit), but because issue #13 of The Department of Truth made me think a lot about the way the world is, and the world we make for ourselves. 

In this new chapter of the series, Hawk brings Cole to the last place he would ever return, the school where he once thought he was tortured by a satanic cult and a monster with a star drawn on his face. There, Cole and Hawk discuss the origin of the conspiracy theories around satanic cults and Hawk reveals to Cole that Barker has a bigger plan in store, that the Starfaced Man has taken from, and that he suspects that Lee is not the real deal, but a fiction manifested in reality. 

Before I get into my favorite part of this issue (and the reason I brought up Kant), let me once again praise Martin Simmonds’ art and Aditya Bidikar’s letters. Even though the historical discussions in this issue are really interesting, long dialogue scenes like this can get tedious in a medium like comics, but Simmonds’ art is so good that it keeps your attention throughout the whole comic, while it also does a wonderful job setting up the atmosphere and the tone of the comic. Simmonds’ talent combines with Bidikar’s wonderful lettering special shine when it comes to the Starfaced Man. This pair presents a monster so unsettling and horrendous that each panel that contains it becomes the center of attention.

All that being said, my favorite thing about this issue is probably Hawk’s history and motivation. Here we have a guy that knows the truth doesn’t really matter in a world where the images we make of the world matter more than the world itself. He understood this but didn’t realize this doesn’t make the truth less powerful, and when he tried to play god, he realized that things are a lot more complex than we think; he understood that even when we try to put everything in little boxes (like good guys and bad guys) and see the world through lenses of our making, we will never have power over truth itself. 

The reason I don’t like Kant is because, even though he was a brilliant man and that he revolutionised philosophy and knowledge itself, he is one of the main reasons that we believe that we can control the truth through theories and categories, and once we think this, once we are sure everything can be organized into a tidy little system, that’s the moment the truth fights back, the moment it challenges everything we thought we knew. It’s time we start realizing we need to have a chat with truth instead of trying to tame it, or starfaced monsters will come for us at night. 


The Department of Truth #10 Review

Truth is a funny thing, it has many forms, and people relate to it in vastly different ways. Truth can change a person… it can destroy them. So what happens when someone lets the truth consume them? and what happens when fiction starts walking around like wild beasts? 

This issue of James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds’ The Department of Truth the team goes hunting for Bigfoot and discusses the existence of cryptids (or lack thereof). In between the main story the issue also has the diary of a Bigfoot hunter, telling the story of his father’s relation to the Bigfoot hunt.

While this issue continues the fantastic world building the creative team has pushed forward with past issues, this time going into what are the creatures they call wild fictions and how they work, the real strength of the issue is on the diary pages and the story they tell. 

In the past Tynion and Simmonds have explored the themes of truth and beliefs through the lens of conspiracy theories, so far this exploration has occupied itself with the epistemological side of the dilemma, asking questions like: Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? How do beliefs spread? How do organizations can make people’s perceptions of the truth change? This issue (the diary entries in particular) goes over the personal side of things. 

In the story of the bigfoot hunter and his father, we see what the truth can make to a person, how it changes and consumes them. Like I said before, truth is a funny thing, while from a far the truth seems to be this cold scientific instrument that is frozen in time and space, but the way I see it the truth is more complicated, more wild, like a living creature. The father of the writer of the diary stumbles onto a truth that changes him, the existence of Bigfoot. In this truth he sees something bigger than himself, something that gives his own existence purpose. Once that truth was presented to him, his world changed, because that’s what truths do, they become the center of our lives and change and evolve as we do the same. 

I don’t think it is a coincidence that the diary entries where included in the same issue the members of the department discuss the creatures known as wild fiction, creatures that are not quite alive, creatures that make you feel sick when you are around them, creatures that can not be captured with any device on Earth. I think this issue takes a leap previous issues couldn’t take, in this issue the truth and beliefs are no longer talked about like they are information, they are talked about like they are living creatures that wrap the reality around those who surround them. 

This has been my favorite issue of the series because it changes the discussion. Tynion and Simmonds are no longer talking about mere stories and theories, they are now talking about the changing pillars on which we build our lives. I think this series has been so popular not only because its art is spectacular and the dialogue is amazing, but because it understands that we have finally realized that the relation we have with truth is a lot more complicated that what we once thought. 

I really liked this issue and I’ve been loving the series so far, and I’m really excited to see where the hunt for Bigfoot (and the truth) takes us next.